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Kratom is very much the International Man of Mystery. As of 2018, very little is known about the supplement. It wasn’t until I started working for a marijuana company that I first heard of these magical leaves from Southeast Asia. When I first bought powdered kratom, I thought it looked identical to finely ground marijuana and assumed the effects, uses, and consumption methods would be similar. Turns out, I was only half right. The long-term effects of kratom range both on the positive and not-so-positive side, according to medical professionals. Kratom is not marketed as a recreational drug, which could explain why a large percentage of the population has never heard of it or bothered to try it. Studies show kratom use has been on the rise in recent years, which suggests word of these leaves is spreading faster than the California wildfires. Here’s what we know so far about kratom.

What Are People Using Kratom For?

Let’s start with the good news. Consumers rely on kratom for its fast-acting short-term effects, most of which would be described as positive. Users have reported experiences of euphoria within the first ten minutes of ingestion. Kratom capsules can easily be swallowed on their own, whereas powdered kratom usually gets mixed into a beverage. Tea and chocolate milk are popular choices for those who think the powder is too bitter or off-putting on its own. Personally, I think my powder smells and tastes like matcha, so I don’t mind tossing it back off a spoon.

How Long Does it Last?

Going back to the short-term effects, feelings of euphoria are said to last approximately 90 minutes. Other short-term effects can increase alertness, creativity, focus, energy, and sociability. Unlike marijuana, kratom has fewer links to deep relaxation, fatigue, and “couch lock.” So far, so good. No negative short-term effects in sight!

The problem with kratom, however, is that people start to feel so good and uplifted that they make it a regular thing. They make kratom a part of their daytime or nighttime routine. Suddenly, we’re looking at long-term use of the leaf. That’s where things get a little iffy based on medical reports.

Using Kratom Regularly

According to Healthline, the way you take kratom can lead to health issues in the long run. If your body is overloaded with powder (loose powder, not in capsule form) it can lead to constipation. Your bowels may have trouble functioning properly and movements may become infrequent. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that this can lead to discomfort using the restroom. A little powder here and there is fine, but be sure not to overdo it for the sake of your intestines. Although this wouldn’t be considered a serious side effect, it’s something to consider.

Hunger and Kratom Use

A bigger problem with long-term kratom use involves appetite. No, it doesn’t make you hungry the same way marijuana does. There’s no such thing as kratom-related munchies. In fact, it’s the opposite. Long-term use of kratom can lead to a loss of appetite, which may snowball into significant weight loss, and even anorexia. This side effect should not be taken lightly. Anorexia is a life-threatening eating disorder that involves the restriction of caloric intake. Weight loss may sound like a perk to some, but boy is it a slippery slope.

How Kratom Affects Sleep

Remember when I thought kratom and marijuana were similar because of their coloring? Well, here’s another reason I was wrong. Frequent kratom use can lead to insomnia, whereas a vast majority of marijuana users depend on it to help them sleep. Some varieties of kratom wake up the mind to a point where people may not go to bed until the late hours. Losing a little sleep here and there is nothing to cry home about, but in the long run, a lack of sleep can lead to

  • Higher blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Mood swings
  • Memory issues
  • Lower sex drive

Kratom: Great in Moderation

As with all things, the key to a positive kratom experience is limits. Know your limits. Start small and gradually work your way up. The most accurate way to measure your your kratom intake is with a scale. Experienced kratom users consume two or three grams at a time, but I started with 0.5. I mixed that into my peppermint tea and had a lovely morning. Too much of anything can be a bad thing, just ask the consumers who experienced nausea, sweating, and constant itching after a much-too-large dose of kratom. It’s almost as if they had an allergic reaction to it.

One last point to mention is that kratom has an external effect on your body, too. A small percentage of frequent users noticed hyperpigmentation of their cheeks, which occurs when patches of the skin turn darker than the normal pigment of other areas. This can make the skin look blotchy, patchy, and sickly. Hyperpigmentation can be reduced with the help of skincare and beauty products. I always heard that pure lemon essential oil is great for brightening and evening skin tone. I happen to use it every night before bed just because.

Okay, what have we learned today? Our goal was not to paint kratom in a negative light, but instead explore the medical long-term side effects of kratom. Please remember that there are positive side effects to kratom as well. Kratom is believed to be the solution to the opioid epidemic in America, as it offers similar pain-killing relief without extreme addiction.

Don’t buy into the rumor that kratom is an opioid itself. We’ve seen that printed on magazines and news headlines but it’s not true. Kratom comes from the same chemical family as the coffee tree, whereas opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Based on their origins, they cannot be the same thing.

The key takeaway here is to evaluate both sides, the good and bad, when dealing with kratom. The long-term effects of kratom should not be ignored, but they also should not overshadow all the good this leaf can do. Ultimately, if you plan to use kratom for a long-term or chronic condition, consider taking breaks and maybe even doing a kratom cleanse. These practices enable people to continue using kratom without the potential downsides.

Be safe out there!


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